ACC preview: Florida State's second act

ACC preview: Florida State's second act
October 24, 2013, 9:15 am
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Schedule:

Wake Forest @ No. 7 Miami, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
Georgia Tech @ Virginia, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh @ Navy, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
NC State @ No. 2 Florida State, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
No. 9 Clemson @ Maryland, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Duke @ No. 14 Virginia Tech, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
Boston College @ North Carolina, Sat. 3:30 p.m. on CSN

Matchup of the week: NC State @ No. 2 Florida State, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

Florida State reduced last week’s game of the century into a good old fashioned whuppin’ as they routed Clemson on their home field 51-14. If the opener was a coming out party for redshirt quarterback Jameis Winston, last week was the coming out party for the entire Florida State team. In what was the most impressive win of the college football season, the Seminoles launched themselves into national title contention and are now ranked number 2 in the season's first BCS standings.

All of that will mean nothing if they do not continue winning.

The same team that knocked Florida State from the ranks of the unbeaten last year will look to do so again this Saturday as NC State comes to Tallahassee. It has been an up and down year for the Wolfpack; they played Clemson in a very tight game in mid-September but have also stumbled against Wake Forest and Syracuse and are currently winless in the ACC. Once thought to be a dark horse for the division, the Wolfpack would probably just settle for a win to prevent their season from going into free fall.

Beating a national title contender can do wonders for a team’s psyche, but it will not come easy with ‘Famous’ Jameis leading the Seminoles. Winston has been phenomenal all season long, throwing 20 touchdowns, only three interceptions, and completing 71.3 percent of his passes and all of it as a redshirt freshman. There is no more impressive player in all of college football right now.

Still, despite the Wolfpack’s struggles, they have proven to be a team capable of getting up for the big games and are more formidable than you might think. With a 27th ranked scoring defense, the Wolfpack may be losing, but they are keeping things close. If NC State can stay within a touchdown of the Seminoles late into the game, anything can happen.

Player to watch: Sammy Watkins, WR, junior, Clemson

Watkins has the ability to beat the very best secondaries in college football, so what is he going to do against an injury depleted Maryland defense that gave up 260 yards to Wake Forest last week? Well…things just might get ugly.

The Terps will be without linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil and its best cornerback in Dexter McDougle. They may also be without linebacker L.A. Goree and safety Anthony Nixon, both of whom are struggling with lingering injuries.

When healthy, the Terps would have struggled to contain the explosive Watkins, but with so many defensive players watching from the sidelines this Saturday, it is hard to see just how Maryland will keep Watkins from running wild.

Clemson is coming off a very humbling defeat at the hands of Florida State. To put it mildly, they were embarrassed. Despite a smothering defensive effort by the Seminoles, Watkins still managed to haul in eight catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. His five touchdowns through the season’s first seven games are already more than the three he caught in all of 2012.

This is a Clemson team in need of a serious rebound. Plus, Maryland did Clemson the added favor of making this their homecoming weekend. Does any team in America feel more disrespected right now than Clemson?

It will be back to the basics for the Tigers this week against the Terps. They need their senior quarterback, Tajh Boyd, to regain his composure. What better way to get him to return to form than by letting Watkins loose in the Maryland secondary? The Terps should expect a healthy dose of Watkins this Saturday.

Upset alert: Wake Forest @ No. 7 Miami, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

Miami got its first real scare last week in Chapel Hill as the Hurricanes scored the go-ahead touchdown with only 16 seconds left to beat a relatively weak North Carolina team. This week, Miami will be without wide receiver Phillip Dorsett who suffered a partial MCL tear. Star running back Duke Johnson, who left last week’s game due to a migraine, has been cleared to play which is a boost so long as he, and the rest of the Hurricanes, can hang onto the ball.

Miami has struggled with turnovers, giving up the ball 12 times in the past 3 games. There is perhaps no bigger momentum swing in football than a turnover and Miami may find itself in a much tighter battle than they anticipated.

Wake Forest has been a very difficult team to figure out this year. After a 1-2 start, the Demon Deacons were playing so poorly that a 1-11 season looked like a distinct possibility. Now Wake Forest has won two straight including last week’s win over Maryland which they were dominating even before Deon Long and Stefon Diggs left the game. The Demon Deacons also have stud receiver Michael Campanaro who is one of the best in the ACC.

With the NCAA’s announcement of the Hurricanes’ sanctions resulting from the Nevin Shapiro scandal, Miami should be feeling like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. They do, however, still have a game to play and Wake Forest has shown enough improvement over the season to prove they are capable of handing the Hurricanes their first loss.

On CSN: Boston College @ North Carolina, Sat. 3:30 p.m.

After failing to closeout Miami last week, North Carolina will again look to turn their season around as they host division opponent, Boston College.

It has not been the type of season head coach Larry Fedora was hoping for at North Carolina as the Tar Heels have limped out to a 1-5 record after an 8-4 season just one year ago. Perhaps the best way to describe their season is with the phrase ‘missed opportunities.’ The Tar Heels blew leads against Georgia Tech and Miami, failed to close the gap in tight games against South Carolina and Virginia Tech, and were blown out against East Carolina in what should have been a relatively easy victory.

Boston College meanwhile looks to be a completely revitalized program under first year head coach, Steve Addazio. The Eagles were almost uncompetitive in 2012, only managing wins over FCS Maine and an injury-depleted Maryland. This year, they are in each and every game. At 3-3, however, it is time for the Eagles to translate a little more of that effort on the field into success on the scoreboard.

Catch the action on CSN at 3:30 p.m.